Since 1988, The State of Working America has provided a
comprehensive answer to a question newly in vogue in this age of
Occupy Wall Street: To what extent has overall economic growth
translated into rising living standards for the vast majority of
American workers and their families? In the 12th edition, Lawrence
Mishel, Josh Bivens, Elise Gould, and Heidi Shierholz analyze a
trove of data on income, jobs, mobility, poverty, wages, and wealth
to demonstrate that rising economic inequality over the past three
decades has decoupled overall economic growth from growth in the
living standards of the vast majority.
The new edition of The State of Working America also
expands on this analysis of American living standards, most notably
by placing the Great Recession in historical context. The severe
economic downturn that began in December 2007 came on the heels of
a historically weak recovery following the 2001 recession, a
recovery that saw many measures of living standards stagnate. The
authors view the past decade as "lost" in terms of living standards
growth, and warn that millions of American households face another
decade of lost opportunity.
Especially troubling, the authors stress, is that while overall
economic performance in the decades before the Great Recession was
more than sufficient to broadly raise living standards, broad-based
growth was blocked by rising inequality driven largely by policy
choices. A determinedly data-driven narrative, The State of
Working America remains the most comprehensive resource about
the economic experience of working Americans.
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